Tuesday, March 17, 2015

An easy refreshing tropical meal: Coconut Black Beans & Rice with Fried Bananas

Leila's Coconut Rice with Black Beans & Caramelized bananas (vegetarian or vegan, and gluten-free)



This is a quick and tasty dinner to make. We love it at our house. My daughter will even eat the leftovers cold in her school lunch (her doing, not mine). It is a nice family meal for when you don't feel like eating meat. You can easily make it vegan by using all coconut oil instead of butter. This meal is also naturally gluten-free (just check your salsa ingredients).

I adore caramelized bananas! My mom would make them for me as I was growing up. At the time, she always used real butter, and we ALWAYS salted them. They are like nature's version of salted caramels. The trick with the bananas is not to use too high of heat, or you will scorch them instead of caramelize them. Being patient is worth it. Make the bananas as the rice is cooking. Also prepare all the garnishes as the rice and beans finish up.


Bananas this ripe and even riper, are used.

Lay the bananas cut side down in the prepared pan.

They are looking caramely on the edges and are ready to turn.


Leila's Coconut Rice with Black Beans & Caramelized bananas
Serves 4.

Ingredients:

The Rice:
2 c. basmati rice (white or brown) with 1/2 t. sea salt or Leila's BioSalt, cooked in a rice cooker according to rice cooker directions
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained (can use 2 cans to up the protein and fiber)
2 T. raw agave nectar, optional *

The Caramelized Bananas:
1 T. coconut oil (deodorized or virgin)
1 T. real butter, or ghee (clarified butter)
4 to 6 very ripe bananas (or as many bananas as you can cram in the pan!)
Sea salt, or Leila's BioSalt, to taste (my BioSalt recipe is in my first blog post)

Garnish with:
the Caramelized Bananas (above)
raw baby spinach leaves
diced pineapple, fresh or canned
golden raisins, optional (or chopped dates)
scallions, minced
shredded jicama
red bell pepper, chopped, optional
sugar snap pea pods, optional
fruit salsa (like peach-mango salsa)
cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Method:

The Rice: 
Cook the rice, 1/2 t. salt and water amount called for in your rice cooker until done.
Leave the rice cooker on the keep warm setting.
Fluff the rice and stir in the can of coconut milk. Toss gently to blend.
After the coconut milk has been absorbed by the rice, add the canned black beans and toss.
Let the rice cooker's keep warm feature warm the beans and rice mixture.

The Caramelized Bananas:
Melt the butter and coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan, over med-high heat.
Peel and cut in half lengthwise 4 to 6 very ripe bananas.
Place banana halves, cut side down into the melted fats in the pan.
Let the bananas start sizzling before you turn the heat down to medium heat.
When the underneath sides look golden brown and caramelized, sprinkle salt over them and turn them over. Caramelize the other side and lightly salt. Turn heat to very low to keep warm, until use.

Putting it all together:
On individual serving plates, first put a bed of baby spinach, then portion the rice & bean mixture over top. Top with caramelized bananas, pineapple, and other desired fruit and vegetable garnishes.
Finish off by topping with the fruit salsa and cilantro.

At our house we load up on the fruit and vegetable toppings and we like a generous amount of fruit salsa.


* Note: You may omit the agave and use Lakanto's Golden zero-cal granular sweetener instead. I would add it to the cooking water so that it will fully dissolve.


Enjoy!

Author: Leila Wood.